The Incurable Goose Plague | Editorial | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

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The Incurable Goose Plague

Let us consider Branta Canadensis, the Canada goose. In many ways it is a noble bird. Its V-formation flocks honking their way across the sky


Let us consider Branta Canadensis, the Canada goose. In many ways it is a noble bird. Its V-formation flocks honking their way across the sky are an inspiring sight. It mates for life and bravely guards its nests and chicks. And with its nearly six-foot wingspan, black neck and white "chin strap" it's physically impressive.
It also produces an impressive amount of poop, and therein lies the problem. While feeding, an adult Canada goose can drop a fresh bomb every five minutes. Contrary to common belief a goose does not produce up to four pounds of fecal material a day - it only produces about half a pound. But that's still a lot of crap.
The stuff is not only disgusting, it's dangerous. Analysis of goose droppings shows they're loaded with germs, including fecal coliform bacteria.
The decline in natural predators (foxes, coyotes, weasels, raccoons) has allowed Canada geese - normally migratory - to set up permanent colonies in many places. (The proliferation of golf courses also might have contributed: The geese love to graze on lush, green turf.) Scottsdale, Arizona reportedly has become a very popular spot. So, regrettably, has Bend, Oregon.
The chronicle of the Bend Metro Park and Recreation District's efforts to deal with our goose population is a study in futility that would make great material for a movie comedy ("Paul Blart, Goose Cop"?). The district has tried scaring them off with noise, feeding them drugs to make them sterile, coating their eggs with oil so they won't hatch, and trapping and relocating them.
One especially memorable episode involved a device like a small cannon that fired a net over groups of geese, which then were put in trucks and transported to wildlife refuges in Eastern Oregon. The tactic was a big success ... except that the geese came back. Apparently Park & Rec officials had forgotten they could fly.
Now Park & Rec is getting set to give it one more shot. The board is going to get together with US wildlife officials and the public with the aim of devising a Grand Comprehensive Anti-Goose Strategic Master Plan.
We commend them for making the effort, but frankly we're skeptical. It's tough to think of anything that hasn't already been tried - except maybe bringing in some hunters and letting them blast away. But firing shotguns in residential areas poses certain hazards, as well as being quite illegal.
One idea that at least has the merit of originality is encouraging Bend's geese to move to Scottsdale. Maybe Park & Rec could print a bunch of brochures touting Scottsdale's attractions - year-round warm weather and green grass, tons of golf courses - and leave them lying around in places geese like to hang out.
Aside from that, there's nothing we can think of to help Park & Rec in its anti-goose crusade except to deliver a symbolic BOOT to all of Bend's geese - and promise that if it succeeds we will give it the coveted GLASS SLIPPER, carefully cleansed of all traces of goose byproduct.

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